Puppy Bowl at Denver Airport

Football fan or not, it’s hard not to love the Puppy Bowl pre-game event that is now a Super Bowl-day tradition.

The event is so cute – and so good for promoting the adoption of puppies and dogs (and cats), that Denver International Airport holds is own Puppy Bowl.

DEN’s fourth annual Puppy Bowl will take place in the main terminal from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, ­Feb. 1.

The “players” will include eight adoptable puppies and two adoptable adult dogs from the Denver’s animal shelter/humane society, called the Dumb Friends League.

Pets featured at the DEN Puppy Bowl will be available for adoption the following day or following week at the Petco Adoption Center in Denver on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If you’re not able to attend the event in-person, be assured the airport will be sharing snaps of the puppies in action on social media (#DENPuppyBowl) and showing all the DEN Puppy Bowl “game footage” on the DEN Facebook page after the event.

Robots, cool art for basketfall fans at San Antonio Int’l Airport

San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is geared up to welcome an estimated 93,000 visitors to the city for NCAA Final Four.

Arriving passengers will be greeted by SAT Ambassadors, NCAA Final Four volunteer greeters and art installations by local artist Cruz Ortiz,

Ortiz’s large-scale “Come as Rivals, Leave as Friends” artwork is in Terminals A and B and features flag-waving basketball fans, clasped hands and #Friends4Ever in Ortiz’s iconic style.

“This project at the San Antonio International Airport was super cool because it gave me the chance to present work on a large scale,” Ortiz said in a statement, “This special opportunity allowed me to show people getting off planes from all over the world what the soul of San Antonio is about.”

There are also robots helping travelers find food and other amenities at the airport:

United Airlines serving up Olympic super heroes & snacks

United Airlines is super excited about the Winter Olympics and, as the official airline of Team USA, is going all out with stateside celebrations.

On Friday, Feb 9, the airline will be giving out super hero action figures of a half dozen Olympic athletes at seven hub airports: Houston (IAH), Dulles, DEN, LAX, SFO, Newark and O’Hare. Details here.

United will also be serving up Olympics-inspired food and beverage at more than 50 club locations through February 24.

On Friday, February 9,  they’ll be serving a Perfect 10 cocktail made with prosecco and cranberry juice, garnished with blueberries and cranberries and a Super Sundae, made with vanilla ice cream,  strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream.

Through February 24, foods served will include a fruit bar with blueberries, pineapple, blackberries, honeydew and strawberries and a mix-and-match candy bar.

And in addition to specialty cocktails ($5 each) such as the The Rings (Vodka, triple sec, white cranberry juice and simple syrup garnished with lifesavers), on February 24 the menu will include a red, white and blue parfait, made with vanilla yogurt, fresh strawberries, blueberries and a sprinkle of granola.


MSP Airport is ready for Super Bowl fans to arrive – and leave

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is ready for the Super Bowl 52 fans to arrive – and leave .

“For many Super Bowl attendees, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will be their first and last impression of Minnesota, and we want to ensure it’s a great one,” said Brian Ryks, executive director and CEO of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns and operates MSP.

The airport has spruced up with a special Super Bowl info page on its website, an enhanced Wi-Fi system, new carpeting, new furniture, new shops and restaurants and has added lots of NFL signage and pop-up Super Bowl souvenir shops in the terminals.

Extra volunteers have been recruited to help travelers with airport wayfinding and extra space has been arranged for all the taxis, rental cars, limos and Uber and Lyft cars that will be supplementing public transportation options at the airport.

Weather contingency plans are in place. Airport police and fire crews have been working with city, county and federal law enforcement agencies on how to deal with various scenarios. And the Transportation Security Administration is bringing in extra officers and passenger screening canines to help process passengers heading home after the game.

“TSA operations at MSP following the Super Bowl will be an ‘all hands on deck’ operation,” said TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers, “From uniformed staff to plain-clothes administrative personnel, everyone will be working.”

TSA and MSP expect to set passenger records on the Monday and Tuesday after Super Bowl, but airport officials are confident their team is up for the challenge.

“We have a solid plan in place to keep everyone safe, the operation running smoothly, and travelers’ experience positive,” said MSP’s Ryks.

Safe and smooth is good, but MSP’s Super Bowl welcome team is also offering fans of the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots some fun extras.

A 10-day “Performing Arts Spectacular” is underway, with a lineup of events featuring everything from Bollywood, hip-hop and flamenco dancers to vocal and drum performances. The airport’s animal ambassadors will be out in full force. And giveaways in the terminals will include a series of Super Bowl/Winter-themed MSP buttons and foldable terminal maps with disposable hand warmers attached.

Several airlines, including Delta, Southwest, American and United, have added flights to MSP from Boston, Philadelphia and many other major hubs for Super Bowl ticket holders and last-minute planners heading to the Twin Cities to partake of Super Bowl festivities.

In addition to the extra flights, American Airlines, the official airline for the Philadelphia Eagles, is handing out Eagles rally towels to all passengers flying on from Philadelphia to Minneapolis-St. Paul through Sunday, February 4.

And on Saturday and Sunday, United Airlines is serving “football favorites,” including hot dogs and macaroni salad, to customers visiting the carriers’ lounges in its hub cities. United Club visitors in Boston, Philadelphia and Minneapolis will also find extra treats, including lobster roll and New England clam chowder in Boston; Tastykakes and a build-your-own hoagie bar in Philadelphia; and Captain Ken’s Wagon Trail Chili (a Minnesota favorite) in Minneapolis.


Bay area airports gear up for Super Bowl 50

Mineta San Jose International Airport ready for Super Bowl 50 fans_edited

No matter which teams end up playing in Super Bowl 50 on February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, airports in the Bay Area are ready for all those sports fans to arrive – and depart.

Here’s what some of the area airports have in store:

Officials at San Francisco International Airport are gearing up for a steady stream of arriving traffic in the days leading up to the Super Bowl and for a big crush of travelers on the Monday following the game.

“For the departure activity, we’re working with the TSA and airlines to open ticket counters and security checkpoints much earlier than usual,” said airport spokesman Doug Yakel, “and many airlines are actually planning to remain open 24 hours from Sunday into Monday to keep customers moving.”

The “5-4-3-2-1” campaign, should help move things along on departure day. The campaign encourages travelers to check out of their hotels 5 hours before their scheduled departure flight, to return their rental cars 4 hours before their flights and to check in at their airline ticket counters 3 hours before their flights. SFO is urging Super Bowl fans to get through the security checkpoints at least 2 hours before their flights and be waiting at their departure gates a least an hour before the scheduled departure time.

Other airports in the area are promoting the 5-4-3-2-1 campaign as well.


That means, of course, that a lot of passengers may be spending more time than usual at the airport and SFO is ready for that with an exhibit of artifacts from the NFL Hall of Fame (in Terminal 3) and a planned program of live music in all the terminals.

SFO has also set aside 150 parking spaces for private and corporate aircraft activity.

Pop-up Super Bowl shop at Oakland International Airport_edited

Oakland International Airport already has a pop-up shop selling Super Bowl memorabilia inside the terminal and is bracing for full flights during the week of the Super Bowl but, right now, has no additional commercial game-related flights scheduled for that week.

“What we are anticipating is an increase in corporate flights and are expecting to have the most private jet activity in the region, given that we have the most physical space for aircraft parking,” said OAK spokesperson Keonnis Taylor.

Mineta San Jose International Airport, “the gateway to The Big Game,” has spent months been planning for a significant increase in Super Bowl 50-related travelers and aircraft, including the arrival of the two Super Bowl team planes, currently scheduled on Sunday, January 31, and up to 10 commercial-sized aircraft transporting NFL family and friends, which are likely to land on February 4, said SJC spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.
Some airlines will likely add commercial flights to accommodate increased demand, once the two teams playing have been decided, but SJC is also planning to accommodate what may be up to 150 private aircraft.

Passengers will find super-sized NFL graphics inside and outside of the terminals and in the Rental Car center, an increased presence by the San Jose Police Department and extended TSA checkpoint hours and personnel on Game Night through Tuesday after the game.

A helpful Game Week Travel page on the SJC website offers everything from tips on ground transportation options to a reminder from the TSA to pack Super Bowl 50 souvenir program in carry-ons only, “due to the program’s hologram feature.”

(My story about Bay Area airports gearing up for Super Bowl 50 first appeared on USA TODAY )